Dick Clark: A Friend Of The KISS Family
By Tim McPhate
A look back at the relationship between America's Oldest Teenager and the Hottest Band In The Land...
I went to a KISS concert not too long ago, and it was an amazing experience. It was big. It was flashy. It was loud. And it was fun." — Dick Clark, "KISS: Beyond The Makeup"
The entertainment industry lost a true icon with the passing of the "America's Oldest Teenager," Dick Clark. Clark died April 18 of a massive heart attack. He was 82 years old. Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Clark began a career in radio before graduating from high school, working in the mailroom of New York's WRUN-AM. He attended Syracuse University where he earned a degree in business and worked as a DJ at the university's student-run radio station. In 1952 he landed a spot as a DJ at Philadelphia's WFIL-AM where he hosted "Dick Clark's Caravan Of Music," subsequently leading to a gig hosting the famed "American Bandstand." After relocating to Hollywood, Calif., in 1963, Clark founded Dick Clark Productions, producing TV shows such as "Super Bloopers And Practical Jokes" and the annual American Music Awards. Emerging as a successful entrepeneur, Clark also became widely known for his annual "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" telecast, which he hosted for more than three decades. In 1990 Clark was honored with a Recording Academy Trustees Award. Along with KISS, he also has a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Clark was renowned for brining the rock and roll genre into the mainstream via "American Bandstand," which aired from 1952–1989. Rock acts performing on the show throughout its history included Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, the Doors, Peter Frampton, and Billy Idol, among others. His presence on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" was both an annual tradition and a part of American pop culture. In recent years, Clark had continued appearing on his New Year's telecast despite suffering from a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.
As it pertains to KISS, Clark was an early supporter of the band in hosting the band on his ABC program "In Concert" in 1974, marking KISS' first national TV appearance. With a rainbow backdrop hovering above the KISS logo, the quartet energetically ran through "Firehouse," "Nothin' To Lose" and "Black Diamond," with the performance airing March 29, 1974. The performance is featured on "KISSology Volume 1."
The band performed multiple times on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," including performances in 1993 and 1996. Additionally, KISS performed at the special 50th anniversary show in tribute to "American Bandstand," which aired May 3, 2002. More recently, Clark appeared in KISS' 2001 VH1 special, "KISS: Beyond The Makeup." Clark was also among those interviewed for KISS' upcoming book,"Nothin' To Lose: The Making Of KISS (1972-1975)." In a 2006 interview, Gene Simmons recalled his first meeting with Clark. "When KISS first started we came out to Hollywood for our very first time, we appeared on 'In Concert', Dick Clark's concert show on ABC," said Simmons. "We were green, we knew no one, all we had was ourselves — all for one, one for all, us against the world. "Right before we were to go on, Clark came into our dressing room. He put his arm around our shoulders and said, 'Anything you want, just ask me.' He was kind enough to us in the beginning when no one else gave a squat. Dick Clark was, is, and continues to be a gentleman of the highest order."
Originally Published: April 18, 2012